Almost one year in Asia, almost one year 30 degrees or even more every day… We know, it’s not going to be like that in New Zealand. But still, my body and mind seem totally unprepared when leaving Auckland airport and facing rain, wind and 14 degrees. Okay, put on all your clothes and stop complaining. It’s New Zealand (NZ), where we are now, for many travelers one of the most beautiful places all over the world.

To be honest, the first thing we do, even before leaving the airport, is buying two big cups of coffee. We almost already forgot about that delicious taste. Only more expensive restaurants and cafes in Asia have this kind of coffee on their menu. So it’s a rare treasure for the traveler on a budget and it’s kind of a little celebration. It also helps to deal with the cold outside.

For the first days in Auckland, we booked a room in advance. A quite good deal as we notice after passing some backpacker places. Especially in New Zealand’s biggest city, everything is expensive. Our host, Andreas, is a guy from Germany, who moved to NZ some years ago. We already had a skype call a few days ago and he tried to prepare us for the conditions we would face at his place. In NZ most houses are wooden and not isolated properly. People also usually don’t heat their rooms. Andreas accommodation for us is a so-called sleep out, a wooden house behind the main building with tiled floor surrounded by trees and therefore not heated by the sun in the daytime. I think you can imagine what this means if there is an outside temperature below 10 degrees in the nighttime. So sleeping with a hat and wearing outdoor clothes all day long. I really struggle with the cold, but it seems I’m not the only one. All supermarkets and warehouses sell hot water bottles and electric blankets, so I help myself with buying one of these bottles too.

The best way to explore NZ is to go on a road trip, so our first priority is to find a car we can drive around and sleep in the next three months. Seven already did some research in advance. Now it’s getting serious. To save money for public transport, he does the inspection alone.

Here’s what he experienced:
I am riding with the bus in all directions. We’re looking for a station wagon. We need minimum three seats and all the cheap Campervans have only 2 and a bed in the back. After three days I find a white Nissan Cefiro sold by a nice guy who bought a bigger SUV for his boat. I can take the car for a long test drive and I pick up Helen. We both love the car from the beginning on. Before we finally decide we go to a workshop and check the drive shaft joints. There are making sounds and have to be changed. Fortunately the seller gives us some discount and so we have a car. Welcome “Lexy” to our family!

But before we start the road trip we are going to volunteer for one week at Amanda’s home. Amanda is a nice kiwi woman with two children, Marianna and Samuel. The family is living in a beautiful house in northern Auckland and there is always a lot to do around the house and garden. We get a nice double bedroom downstairs next to Vanessa’s room. Vanessa is the actual Au-Pair for the kids and also from Germany. The next days are structured by different tasks like mowing the loan, taking care of the children, cleaning bathroom and kitchen, cleaning the cars and other things. Most of the free time we spend in the nearby library. Especially if the weather is rainy and cold. Libraries are quite important social meeting places in NZ and very well maintained and equipped.

Another family member is the cute dog, Dakota. Amanda’s home is close to a small nice bush area and we enjoy going there with Dakota. There is also some time to explore the area close to Auckland and we are lucky to be flexible with having our car “Lexy”. After the first day trip a bit out of town, we already know, NZ has a lot of gorgeous places to offer and we are more than excited to start going “on the road”.
After one week it’s time to say goodbye to Amanda, Vanessa, Marianna and Samuel. It was a great opportunity to stay with them and get a bit of an impression of the Kiwi life style in Auckland. Thank you so much for sharing your place with us!

Before we start heading up north I have an appointment with Dr. Niki Harre at the University of Auckland. I am interested in her research about sustainable behavior and contacted her to get some more detailed information, especially about a tool, she developed, to give people the possibility to experience and disrupt current social structures. At the end, I got an appointment. The 30 minutes before meeting with her I feel like a young uninformed student and I am quite nervous. But of course, no need to worry. We have a nice one hour chat in relaxed atmosphere and share some information and knowledge about different topics……and I really miss my work…

But now the New Zealand road trip is coming up!